Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Making Your Kid's Halloween Costume Doesn't Make You A Good Mom

My "Peanut Big Top Lalaloopsy Doll"
Now that the trick-or-treating is over, I can sit down and reflect on the HOURS I spent putting my daughter's costume together.

This is not me bragging, by any means.  Call it a warning, a lesson learned, and a maybe a little encouragement.

First, let's talk about how I NEVER think a Pinterest craft will take very long.  Sure, it's a DIY project, but there's no category for DIYF (Do It Yourself Fast) projects.  They should label those pins with average work hours like recipes include approximate cook and preparation times! This Halloween costume I eagerly volunteered to create for my daughter will only take a few minutes, right? Wrong. It took me 10 or more HOURS!

So there it is: my blind spot. While I get really excited about a new creative venture, I often completely forget to factor in the amount of hours that I'll need to set aside.  The warning label on this project should read "labor-intensive."  Luckily, I started this one in plenty of time, which saved me from so much of the usual stress that comes with my typical procrastination technique!

But this Halloween costume WAS a labor of love, and I actually like doing things like this for my kids now and then.  I didn't have to do it, but I am always looking for creative outlets and momentary departures from the every day tasks. When I can make something AND serve my family, it's always a win-win for me!  Note: I didn't volunteer to sew costumes for the entire crew. I only put together one headpiece, and that was enough!

Ten years ago, however, this new mom once thought I HAD to meet the high standard of making and baking everything from scratch.  If I spent my time designing the most unique fairy skirt or constructing the perfectly original birthday cake, I'd feel like a good mom.  Somehow I had decided that my worth was based on what others thought of my efforts and what deeds I accomplished. This belief is not fair to myself or true in any way.

Your worth never increased or decreased from the moment God created you.  While your good deeds are wonderful and important, God is always looking to the heart of the matter.  He loves you and values you for who you are and who you are becoming- not because of what you do or don't do. Most of the time, we can't see that truth in a tangible way, which is why it's hard to grasp.  Others may see your works, but God sees your heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  

All costumes bought online, except said hair piece and pink shoes.
Maybe it was the depletion of time and energy that came with having more than one child.  My perspective may have changed as I had to choose priorities more wisely.  Sometimes you have to make things easier on yourself.  A lot of times, really.  Don't fall into the guilt trap.  "Supermom" is a myth. There are so many other important responsibilities on your plate- like, I don't know, grocery shopping, planning meals, changing diapers, and folding laundry. All of these things require heaps of your time, effort and attention. 
So when you get a chance to do something extra, do it!  But for most of your days, you have to learn how to take shortcuts.  It's okay. Give yourself a break.  Give yourself grace. 

Making your kid's Halloween costume doesn't make you a "good" mom.  It just means your possibly crazy and brave enough to try, because you like that kind of stuff, and you just happened to find some time to do it.  Those kids care more about how many pieces of candy they score than where the costume came from, anyway!

DIY Lalaloopsy Doll Hair Instructions

This Halloween, I decided to pull out the glue gun and yarn to attempt a piece to my daughter's requested costume.  So, if you're ever wondering how you can make your own Lalaloopsy Doll costume for your kid's next dress up event, here's an estimation of the DIYWT (Do It Yourself With Time) project:


"Peanut Big Top" LaLaLoopsy Doll Hair 

I have to first give this website credit for my inspiration as I used it as a guideline.  My daughter's hair piece had to be different since it required pigtails, but the supply list and instructions were very helpful.

Supplies Needed:
  • 1 Skein Purple Yarn (Hobby Lobby)
  • 19 Yards deco flex tubing (I bought 30 yards from Amazon, after I couldn't find any at Hobby Lobby or Michael's)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Head band (Hobby Lobby)
  • Two Red Hair Bows (Claire's)
  • Scissors 
Approximate Project Time:
  • 10-12 hours (Don't be scared! This doesn't mean the project is difficult, by any means.  It just takes a while to wrap the yarn, so plan ahead.)
  • I cut the deco flex tubing into 10" lengths.  They will stretch out another 1-2" as you work with the coils.  Knowing that, it may be a good idea to place the headband on your child's head and measure a length you'd like the hair to fall. 
  • I ended up using 78 of these 10" pieces for my daughter's hairpiece, which amounted to over 19 yards of the deco flex tubing.  If I had more time, I could've added more for an even fuller look.  That's up to you.
  • Find a comfy chair in front of the TV for the next step.  Apply hot glue to one end of a flex tubing "coil" and add yarn.  Take a minute to glue and cover the end for a finished look, then start wrapping the tubing with your purple yarn until you reach the next end, finishing the same way you started.  Be careful to not wrap too tightly or stretch the "coil" out during this process.  Remember, that it will add an inch or more to your length.  Plus, I think the fuller curl is nicer, and you won't get that if you squeeze the tubing.
  • In the beginning, it took me about 10 minutes to complete one coil.  As I did more (and may have gotten a little impatient), I got faster, finishing a tubing length in five minutes. So I'm guessing it took me around 9 hours to wrap the yarn around all of the coils. I started about two weeks before Halloween, so I just left my supplies in a place where I could work on a few any time I was sitting in the family room.
  • Once you've finished the longest part of this project, you'll want to use your child as a model and figure out how you want the bangs to look.  After you've marked where you want them to go, glue the bangs to the headband first.  I had to cut a few shorter lengths of tubing just for this part. 
  • After you've glued the bangs, start adding all of those precious curls to the headband!  I started by gluing hair that would cover the back of my daughter's head, then concentrated on the sides for the pigtails.  The rest of this was just me eyeballing it.  I added more coils on top of the sides to create the fuller, pigtail appearance, and made sure to keep in mind that it all needed to look finished when I was done.  
  • The process of gluing the coils to the headband, may take another hour or two to complete.  Note: The hair bows also help to hide any imperfections in the front area!

The Rest of the Costume:

  • White Shirt: Amazon (AmazingPrivateSale LLC): French Toast School Uniform Short Sleeve Peter Pan Blouse (Feminine Fit)
  • Orange Gloves: Amazon (SACAS): Elbow Length 15" Satin Gloves in Autumn Red 
  • Black/White Striped Tights: Amazon (Discount Dance Supply) Child Striped Tights
  • Orange Tutu: Amazon (ibabydepot) 12" Orange Ballet Tutu
  • Pink Boots: Target
  • Pink Belt: my daughter's closet
It would have been great if my daughter had some of these elements in her own wardrobe collection, but since she didn't I had to look around for the different pieces that would achieve the "Peanut Big Top" Lalaloopsy Doll look that she liked.

I hope this has been helpful!  I loved seeing my daughter's unique costume when we went trick-or-treating, and she received many compliments on her cheerful outfit- which of course, was reimbursement enough for me :-)

Be creative!  Have fun with this project, and make it your own! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Happy Halloween Decor

With the leaves and acorns sprinkled atop our browning grass, and the decorations finally making their places in our home, it is finally starting to feel like fall around here! Mom's happy, and so are the kids.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I do not participate in the creepy side of Halloween, no matter how many times my six-year-old son claims that it's all "fun" and not at all scary.  So when looking for ways to make things festive around here, I have to get a little creative!  Thank you, Pinterest, for your many inspirations!

Here are a few of our ideas:
Giant Candy Corn (Hobby Lobby)!
Orange Pumpkin Faces (Pinterest)

My kids' funny creations.

Our centerpiece napkin holder

Our entry table (when it's not cluttered).
$5 craft pumpkins sawed in half (Walmart)
$1 Foam sticker kits (Hobby Lobby)
$5 pumpkins to carve this weekend (Walmart)
Leftover craft pumpkin half & old picture frame.
A little small, but inexpensive & cute!

I am still missing a few of my favorite pumpkin decorations packed away in a bin still trapped somewhere in our garage since our recent move, but I would say this is a decent start!

Want to share some of your happy fall decor?

Post your pictures on my Facebook wall!  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why I Love/Hate Halloween

What I LOVE about Halloween- 

  • Dressing up
  • Community events
  • Candy
  • Carving pumpkins, 
  • Decorating for fall
  • Making family memories.

What I HATE about Halloween- 

  • Gory effects
  • Scaring of children, 
  • Celebrating dark themes
At this time every year, I warm up when I see the pumpkin-scented candles and happy scarecrows that signal the beginning of fall, but then immediately tense up at the sight of skeletons and bloody appendages displayed on the shelves of various stores I shop in.  I mean, what a contradiction!  On one hand, we have the beautiful changing of seasons and all of the fun activities that follow- apple picking, pumpkin patches, football games, and family gatherings.  On the drastically different other hand, we observe shockingly gross images of tragic death and alarming red-eyed beings glaring at us in the front yards of our neighbors.  It has always been such a difficult combination for me to process, like eating too many strange foods at once.

Pardon me, while I step upon my soap box for a minute...I wonder why this is fun for people. Why do we glorify horrific and disturbing acts during the month of October?  If someone chased me with a mask and a chainsaw in real life, I would probably be traumatized for the rest of my existence.  If one of my kids discovered an unattached human leg underneath a bush or a decapitated head hanging from a tree branch, they would probably suffer from nightmares for weeks! And only with the help of some prayer and counseling would any of us be able to process something as distressing as that.

Our minds are so vulnerable to negative thoughts already.  My children's developing brains and emotions are even more susceptible to unhealthy thought patterns.  Why in the world would we intentionally contaminate them with such ugly reproductions of the horribly worst possibilities?!

So for the entire month of October, I shield little eyes as much as I can from the evil imaginations of others.  We do not watch as much TV, and when we do, we skip commercials.  Our decorations around the house are fun and uplifting (picture post coming later in the week), and when we go trick-or-treating, we pass right by the houses with skeleton hands reaching up from their graves.  When my son asks me why he may not dress up as a zombie for Halloween, I refer him to one of my life verses:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. -Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Other verses to consider when setting our minds on what is "pure, lovely, and admirable" this month:

There really is already enough sad tragedy in our world, and I see no reason to re-create the damaging effects caused by them.  

And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I will step down from my soap box. Thank you :-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Knew I Was Going to Need More Patience

It just isn't possible.  To be patient for all of those 14 or so daily hours with the kids asking me questions, ignoring mine, forgetting things, and telling me what they think.  Alone, I can't. 

 As I faced three days manning the house while my husband was on a work trip, I prepped myself for the endless demands.  The pressure starts to get to me, and I can imagine a version of this mom hyperventilating or running away.  It's a lot to handle by myself.  On my own, I get tired.  I run out of patience and hear my responses snap like dry twigs. It seems like there is no respite, always being on the clock.

And then Jesus said "Remain in me." I kept repeating it to myself.  Choosing to let go of anxiety and step forward one scenario at a time, peace followed me.  I didn't allow my mind to race ahead to everything I had to do.  I resisted the urge to freak out over every misstep.  "Remain in me," He reminded me. I made my focus on what was possible in Jesus, not on all the ways I could fail.

Because of course I will fail.  I will forget to send in the lunch money or that it was pajama day. I will feel guilty for not reading bedtime stories for at least 20 minutes.  I will lose my cool when any one of my children talk back to me like they know better. Apart from Him, I can swim around in all kinds of inadequacy. But I don't have to.

The "fruits" are there on the Vine begging us to take what we need: more love, more peace, more patience, more gentleness, more self-control (Galatians 5:22-13).  There will be times when we do need an extra pair of hands, a little help around the house.  It's wonderful when we have a teammate that we can count on. But for those days when we don't have someone nearby to pass the ball to, there is more than enough patience to get us through. 

 Remain in me, 
as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; 
it must remain in the vine. 
Neither can you bear fruit 
unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; 
you are the branches. 
If you remain in me 
and I in you, 
you will bear much fruit
apart from me 
you can do nothing.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

But Who's Going to be MY Cheerleader?

In middle school and high school, I cheered for several basketball and football games.  The camaraderie of the team and the rush of being part of something exciting were always thrilling to me.  Later, when my daughter was in elementary school and wanted to join cheerleading, I became her coach for a few years.  Then, it was the joy of teaching little girls how to memorize dozens of cheers and seeing them shine on the field performing much rehearsed routines that called me.  The confidence and friendships they earned from weeks of working together brought me back every week.  I loved it.

As a parent, I continue to cheer for my kids and my family, with or without the pom poms and uniforms.  When my son or daughter scores a goal or nails a routine, I'm out of my chair screaming for them!  When they bring home that classroom award or good grade from school, I'm patting them on their backs and bragging on them at the dinner table.  When they remember their manners or offer to help Mom around the house, I'm throwing all kinds of "Great job!" "Way to go!" "You're awesome!" phrases in the air.  Whether they show it or not, I know it is important for them to hear that encouragement as often as I supply it.

But what about me?  Who cheers for Mommy when I finally fold and put away that mountain of laundry that everyone notices but no one attempts to move. Where are all the "Atta girls!" when I manage to conjure up three meals a day that every family member approves of?  What about the rides, and the homework help, and the things I remember for everyone every day?  Who's going to be MY cheerleader?

It's been said over and over again, that the job of Mother is a thankless one.  Once a year, in the spring, our families rustle up some sweet gifts and cards to tell us we're loved and appreciated, but on a day-to-day basis, we keep doing things for others without much recognition.  There are times that someone remembers to say, "Thank you."  But unfortunately, even the little ones get preoccupied in their own work and play that it's more often that they forget to notice.

They forget because you're always there.  It's easy to take a thing or a person for granted when the house is running smoothly.  We keep up with the calendar and the dishes.  If the mom drops the ball, that's when we are more likely to get noticed. And that's not usually the kind of attention we want, is it? 

We just can't expect chants and cheers for every mission accomplished- at least not from the people around us.

Our cheer section is a whole heaven full of angels. We ARE noticed. As many times as I recognize the inattention from my family, I, myself, should also see how often I forget to focus on what is true. Our goal is to do the work God has called us to do, even when we are not receiving any accolades.  The encouragement is knowing that we don't have to go it alone and we are doing a great work! 


Zephaniah 3:17 (GW)- "The Lord your  God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy."

Hebrews 12:1-4 (MSG)- ...all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!...

(NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus...

Friday, October 04, 2013

And the Winner is... Preschool Book Giveaway

On Monday, I shared a list of our family's favorite preschool books. Each reader who left a comment was entered into a drawing to win their choice of a free book from our top ten. 

The winner is... JAMIE MARTIN! Let me know which favorite you'd like to add to your collection! I hope you grow to love the messages and rhymes as much as we have.

Thanks to everyone who commented and gave me some more children's titles to include in our little family book club. We'll try your suggestions soon :-)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Crunch Time and Football Analogies

Like the night before the paper is due or minutes prior to your presentation, a mom faces equally critical and slightly, nerve-wracking moments every day.

1. First Crucial Moment: Morning.   My house begins humming around 6:45 a.m. during the week. Light switches on.  Toilets flushing.  Little feet and big feet shuffling across wooden floors. One last pre-dawn sip of coffee...

Bro. 2011
You can call it "go time" or "crunch time."  This next hour can make or break the day. Everything hinges upon each person doing as they're told at the approved pace without any interference.  The team players must remember their part, or the rest of us pay.  For all of you football fans out there, when a kid is still barefooted as we walk out the door, blow the whistle: "Flag on the play!"  Since it already requires a blessed miracle for us to get anywhere on time, this may result in at least a ten minute penalty (My husband is going to love this post).  Everybody steer clear of the coach!

2. Next Do or Die Time: High Noon/Afternoon. I'm going to just a lump a few scheduled priorities here.  Picking up my preschooler on time and feeding him lunch before he falls asleep definitely fits into this cram session. How much can I squeeze into small windows of opportunity without jacking up our routine?

Also, waking up said preschooler from nap with enough minutes on the clock to collect the older kids from school could go either way- with amazing ease or with "Oh-my-gosh-I-should-have-left-ten-minutes-ago" anxiety! Steady now. If I pass this important test, supplying snack and a change of clothes for dance/soccer practice really feels like earning some extra credit.  A++
Boone. Circa 2011.

Arriving to after-school activities precisely at the beginning of practice with the right shoes and gear is just as vital during our afternoon as making sure everyone is feeling confident and prepared in the morning.  It can ruin a kid's whole outlook on life if I'm the only mom that forgot to bring his water bottle or made her miss the chat fest before practice begins. Of course, this is a very narrow view on the greater worldview, but they don't know that.  And you better be sure that the mom will hear about it the rest of the evening.

3. The Final Moment of Truth: Dinner/Bedtime. It's been called the "witching hour."  From about 5:00p.m. until dinner, if we're home, this mother of three somehow has to juggle several tasks at once without fail (and without a wand).  I must patiently help each child with their homework without showing my frustration.  While the toddler loudly asks me questions and repeatedly begs brother and sister to please play trucks with him, I attempt to distract and simultaneously focus on a math problem by deflecting interruptions by another. *Heisman pose (That's for my husband again)* My brain almost self-destructs in this phase of the game every time. If my face doesn't turn red with steam blowing out of my ears, I consider it a success.  We all win.

After the papers are signed and put away, I direct the posse upstairs so I can cast a magic spell over the kitchen and conjure up dinner, with or without a plan.  And possibly with or without groceries. This is really when things can get exciting/terrifying.  While I try to cook the final meal of the day, everyone goes wild. No matter how many times I ask the boys not to wrestle, they will.  I tell them to stop jumping off of furniture, but they do.  They run, yell, and throw almost all of my happy house rules out of the window. And every single day someone comes to me sobbing and blaming the other for another injury.  The water is boiling.  Doors are slamming. The table needs to be set. Feet are stomping and voices are yelling.  The oven timer is beeping. 

"I can do this." Daddy's almost home!

I don't know how it is possible, but we all somehow survive each of these pivotal moments- A little battle weary but alive. There may have been a few outbursts, tears even, but we came through.

Around 8:00p.m. Mom officially punches her time card, and any other crises is deferred to the other parent. 

Touchdown. Extra point. Field goal!

***** P.S.- Don't forget to leave a comment on Monday's post to enter a drawing for my first every giveaway!  The winner will be announced this Friday :-) *****

Monday, September 30, 2013

My First Ever Giveaway & My Top 10 Favorite Preschool Books!

At the library. No, he is not usually this still and quiet.
 I love reading with my kids.  It's the blissful part of our routine that I enjoy. It's a happy, Polaroid mental snapshot for me- all the moments when my little chicks are quietly cuddled around me listening to my narration of whatever rhyme or adventure we're reading together (I try to do voices, after all.  Who doesn't like voices?).

Before nap time today, I read a certain book with my two-year-old for the umpteenth time and thought, "You know, this is definitely one of our family favorites!  I should make a list."  But then, I thought it would be even more fun to share it with you!

 So without further ado, in no particular order, here are ten of our kids' favorite stories from the preschool era:

  1. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  2. Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie
  3. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
  4. I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt
  5. Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  6. Where the Wild Things Are by Maruice Sendak
  7. Only In Dreams (Julius!) by Paul Frank Industries
  8. Five Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
  9. Princess Bella and the Red Velvet Hat by T. Davis Bunn
  10. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
I wish I could tell you why each of these books mean so much to us, but it would take forever!  Bella had #2 memorized at one time.  My husband has a funny ditty he sings when he reads #6 with the boys.  And each tiny pair of hands wore out the cover binding on #8 just because they loved running their fingers over the ladybugs as we counted them. Such sweet memories for their mommy!

I would love to hear who else has any of these in their collection.  
Also, what titles would you add to the list?  I'm always looking for new books to read.

Since this is a GIVEAWAY, if you comment on this post, I will announce a winner on Friday.  Then, I'll order the lucky person their very own copy of one my favorites from the list! 

This will be fun! 
Happy Monday.
Happy commenting.
Happy reading.
And Good Luck!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

You Thought You Wouldn't Have to Pull Any More All-Nighters

Remember college?  Do you recall those delirious cram sessions you managed during exam week?  There was a time when I dreamily looked forward to the future when I would no longer need to pull an all-nighter.  I thought it would only be necessary to clock in and out of my day job and be rewarded with at least 9 hours of sleep every night- maybe more on the weekends.


If you're a parent, you read the title to this post and laughed.  Not the funny, belly kind of laugh.  You snickered knowingly under your breath, because a mom with experience knows that all-nighters did not end in college. 


Babies are born in the wrong time zone and on the wrong work shift.  They sleep remarkably well when you don't need them to and wake up when you're ready to call it a day.  So you're suddenly required to become nocturnal and turn to the shopping channel for some p.m. comfort.

Also, the kids get sick...or you do.  I like to shut those "24 hour bug" memories from my mind, so we will just stop there.  It goes without saying that when anyone gets sick, it will probably take you two or three days to recover from your nurse duties.

And finally, if you ever purchase something from IKEA, it will come with fabulous, wordless instructions with all of the tools required, but you will stay up all night tightening bolts and screws.

I guess, as much as we hate losing a little shuteye, it's all worth it.
We love our kids.  And our couch.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Little Progress is Still Progress

Are you like me? Instead of seeing progress, I focus on what hasn't been done yet.  
Do you see any of your accomplishments at all, or do you only see the uncrossed items on your checklist? 
I don't know about you, but that viewpoint causes me to become overwhelmed and discouraged. It makes me stuck- like I'm trying to run a race in quicksand.

So today, I offer you a few little mantras to remind yourself whenever the tasks bog you down:

Have a mantra of your own?  
Comment below and share it!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mark the Moment or You Will Miss It

This is a season of fog: the work of raising human beings. Of mustering through, barely making it, wondering if you are going in the right direction.  You are driving without a map, hoping you gather all of your chicks and bring them safely to their scheduled destiny. 

While you fret about each decision and question your methods, your children keep moving ahead and growing up.  You can hardly find a piece of shade to take a breather and think about the next step.  They keep on going.  You chase them, grab their little hands, tell them to slow down and "Look both ways!"

If you're honest, when you're tired, you daydream of brief respites from all of this traveling.  You just want a soft pillow and quiet place to not worry, not to be responsible for so much.  All of the problem-solving sends you crashing to bed and simultaneously shakes you awake earlier than you wish.

You want to be less relied on at times.  You stretch your arms up for a dose of independence.  Freedom.  

You roll your eyes and hold your tongue when a well-meaning mother tells you, "Enjoy them while you can.  They grow up so fast!"  It doesn't feel fast to you, your feet always dragging.  HOW much further to the finish line?!
This is my toddler refusing to hold my hand to cross the street.  Mr. Big Britches.

It will happen though. You WILL arrive.  

One day you will no longer wake up every 2-4 hours for feedings. You won't strain every ounce of your creativity packing exciting school lunches.  It will not be necessary to check that everyone has what they need in their backpacks, diaper bags, suitcases, and sports duffel. 

What you thought would never end? One day it will.

Then you will be the woman tempted to tell a young, new mom, "Cherish that little one now, because they grow up so fast!" 

But for now, to get you through a season that takes longer than just some leaves to change colors, let's make mental pictures of the bright breaks in the weather.  Don't wait for later to see what is right in front of you now.

Stop and mark the moment.  
  • When you notice him sweetly taking your hand without you asking him to.  
  • When his sense of style is confidently wearing mismatched shoes to school.  
  • The face that lights up when you pick her up from preschool.  
  • The Barbies, the trains, the Legos, the markers, the crayons, and the smell of Play Doh. 
Caught! Same toddler hold my hand just because.  One of my moments.

For just a collection of seconds, forget the shoes by the door and the stain on the couch. 
Mark the moment...the morsel of a time that you will one day miss.

If you're in the mom season, post a comment below, share your moment on twitter or anywhere in your social network and tell us what your little piece of sunshine was today.  #markthemoment

Thursday, September 05, 2013

What This Mom Did With Six Hours of Freedom

It has happened.  My three kids are in school for a few hours every week, and I have discovered windows of quiet, free time to do WHATEVER I WANT!
This guy is on a mission to go to school like the big kids. 

I only dared to imagine this day.  A blessed time when I would schedule coffee dates with friends, spend hours writing my first book, or decorate my new house!

Oh, how  tantalizing the bliss of my far-off daydreams were!

In a cruel twist of fate, however, while my toddler was in a Mother's Morning Out program two mornings this week, I cleaned house, went grocery shopping, and did laundryWhat?! That is so utterly ridiculous.

The silver lining here is that I accomplished much more in three hours without interruptions than in a whole day with a full house! I've also enjoyed more face time with the kids now that I've had time to knock out some items off of the to-do list.

Next week, I'm going to try this again. Clearly, I'm out of practice ;-)

Moms, what do you do 
with your free time?

Monday, September 02, 2013

The "I Did It" List: You've Accomplished More Than You Think Today

In this season of endless household duties, it often feels like nothing is ever done. My "To Do" list keeps multiplying faster than I can cross something off.  On the days when it seems like I am never going to get ahead, I hit reverse and try something different.

With a pen and a blank piece of paper, I write down each task I complete, no matter how small.  
It's my way of visually reminding myself of everything I have accomplished, so I don't get overwhelmed by everything that's left to do.

Do you see how the simplest things add up?  Each small task helps this house run a little smoother and attests to everything moms do to keep their family happy. So next time someone asks you, "What did you do today?" you can hold up the proof and say, "All this!" instead of staring blankly in reply.  

Why don't you make your own "I Did It" list today!  See how awesome you really are :-)

Friday, August 30, 2013

How Two Bouncy Balls Saved An Afternoon

The other afternoon, I knew I was going to have to kill an hour with the boys while my daughter finished choir practice at school. {Cue moment of dread.}  I needed a plan to ward off the guaranteed whining that would plague the longest sixty minutes of my life.  Nobody likes to wait, and everybody gets bored.

So, I let (or made ) my mommy brain slow down and get a little creative. Too often I rush past this simple and necessary moment, because I really don't want to think about one more thing.  I just want the kids to be more patient and considerate with each other.  
Dear mom, those are some high expectations! Since it's unlikely that a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old will graduate the good manners program early, I had to switch gears from "hurry up and get there" to "how can we make this fun?"

I dug around a toy basket until I found two bouncy balls.  

It's amazing how that one stop-and-think minute saved our afternoon!  Equally miraculous was how a couple of bouncy balls and a nearby basketball court so easily entertained two boys.  

House rules thrown out the window. Running, throwing, and screaming allowed. No electronics were involved and zero arguing.  Just precious moments of watching how high or how far the balls would bounce, laughing and furiously trying to catch the runaways, and challenging their hand-eye coordination.

All Mommy had to do was suggest something new.  I should do that more often :-) 

What simple activities are in your Mommy tool belt for those waiting moments (inside or outside)?  Share with the rest of us!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Relax, Mom. Let Them Have Fun!

I have been a stress ball lately.  My husband has pointed it out more than a few times to me this summer.  Unfortunately, my anxiety is contagious.  It makes my kids fearful and can really put a damper on an otherwise pleasant activity. So I've been attempting to recognize the moments I start to get intense and step back for a minute to breathe.

It ain't easy though.  My mind races past the realities of the moment to all the tragic possibilities!  Like when the kids are fishing off of Grandpa's boat, I can clearly predict the impending kid overboard.  So instead of enjoying the moment, I micromanage.  I bark orders like the ship's captain, "Careful there!  Hold on!  Don't run!  Please, sit down! Where are you going?!..."  

I know.  I'm tired of hearing my voice too.  

It's so hard to tone down those overprotective qualities in me, though.  The one that winces at each new risk taken, from climbing the tall playground apparatus to running downhill a concrete driveway.  I foresee scraped knees, broken arms, and rivers of tears!  And guess who has to doctor those tender elbows and clean up their bloody knees?  Me.  Mommy.  I hate seeing my kids in pain.

But scrapes will happen.  Kids trip and fall...a lot.  It's just a part of growing up.  Bless those  Bandaids and popsicles for making so many accidents better!

The risks make the adventure more exciting, doesn't it?  Going down the tall, twisty slide for the first time is a right of passage. Balancing on a bike without the safety of training wheels is every parent's proud, photo-documenting opportunity.  If we never let them try, even with the possibility of getting hurt, they would never learn!  Our kids would miss out on so many exciting adventures!

Remember what it was like to roller skate without holding on to the wall?  Can you recall the rush of letting your bike speed down the tallest hill while you lifted your hands in exhilaration?  That was what it was like to feel carefree.

So, relax, Mom! Let them go!  They may surprise you...and themselves.  Cheer them on! And if you're brave enough, get on your bike too, and get in on the fun.

They'll call for help, if they need you.  Always.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Faith, Fear, & the New School Adventure

 Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to Another New School We Go!

My kids have officially tasted every genre of education, I think.  They have now been students of  public school, homeschool, and private schools.  For some reason, we keep finding ourselves in seasons of change when it comes to our kids' learning environments.

I'm the mom that struggles with each decision, because basically, I am afraid of messing up my kids.  My brain works overtime filtering through all of the choices and hits a state of despair when the kids' future is at stake! 

You know what it's like. We run into other people all of the time with different opinions about how a child should be raised and what they should be learning at what age and what is wrong with all of the other options out there.  The blogs. The books. The sermons. It really can be too much information!

At some point, we have to shut out the voices and prayerfully focus on what works for our own family.  Even more, we need to zero in on what works best for each child.  They are all different! Amazingly, peace arrives when we walk in agreement and confidence with our spouse on the decisions regarding schools-wherever we end up at any given time.  It may take a little time, but God will supply a fresh hope and vision with each bridge we cross over.

Fear-Based Decision Making

What I think we need to be careful about when making decisions for our kids, is that we don't do it out of fear.  Mama bears are known for viciously protecting their cubs, and the human variety is not much different.  It is very easy for us to see any and every challenge as a direct threat to our child's physical or emotional well-being.  Understandably! Most of the time, though, we grab our little charges and run away to hide, instead of fighting each issue that arises in their lives. 

Retreating may be necessary for a season, but we should really use that time to make a plan and strengthen our purpose. What do we want our kids to learn, and how can we make sure they do?

This week, my kids went back to the public school in our new neighborhood.  Truthfully, I cried about leaving the school they attended last year, because it was warm, comfortable, and cozy.  Before that I fought the decision our family made not to continue homeschooling.  Each time something new faced us, I fought it like the mother bear.  I wanted to make sure nothing, and I mean nothing, harmed my children's still-developing beliefs and confidence. I lashed out in fear.

I felt the weight of their spiritual training, now that it wasn't going to be included in their daily school curriculum. I worried about the influences that others would have on their vulnerable worldview. Inwardly, I hung back pleading, "God, show me how this is going to work.  How are you going to lead our family?  Can we still be effective in the teaching of our children when they are away for so many hours?  I give up, God.  Show me."

The thing about praying is that when you're finished asking, you have to wait for an answer.  You have to watch and listen.

We Just Need a Little Faith

I watched my kids adapt each time.  Timidly, but excitedly they stepped out of our den and enjoyed the new places and people they met.  While Mom watched nervously from behind, they walked bravely ahead into a different classroom.  I listened to their first day stories, and God eased all of the previous tensions. With immense faith in me and in our God, my son and daughter jumped into another adventure. It was like God was saying, "See?  I got this.  Remember, I care about them even more than you."

As a Christian, I tell my kids that God is always with them.  I say, "God never makes us afraid."  So it is a test to my faith when I send them off to a strange place.  Do I believe that God is there in my place?  Do I trust Him to protect and teach them when I am not around? 

So instead of holding the kids back in my own fear, I am taking an active role in praying for them like crazy and speaking heaps of truth over them whenever I can. Because God can use us and reveal truth to us anywhere..

...even after three days at the new school.

This week, my son gave his life to Jesus eating Cheerios at the breakfast table!  Not at church. Not at VBS.  Not at his Christian school.  He brought up the conversation in the middle of a normal morning on our way to public school.

God hears our prayers.  He is always with us.  We just have to trust Him. Watch what He will do!